Il mio CousCous

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Did you know that amongst all its incredible benefits couscous is not only my ultimate favourite food 💗but also a source of Selenium 🙌🏻which is a powerful anti-oxidant!!! It is an excellent side dish, great for salads, with fish and meat or simply with vegetables. It’s extremely versatile and you can add all your favourite ingredients!! Couscous reminds me of my Mediterranean sea, the nutty flavour brings me back to my childhood when my Mum used to cook our traditional “Fregola Sarda alle Vongole”, Giant Couscous with Clams…FAVOLOSA!!!! I will share with you my family’s recipe in the summer 🙂

#BringNonnaBack #FoodRevolution

Serving 2-4

Ingredients

100g CousCous

200ml hot water

2 spring onions

1 red pepper

1 yellow pepper

1 tin of cannellini beans

1 tbs of passata (to add some colour)

Hot and sweet Roquito chilli peppers pearls (for a spicy kick)

Salt

Olive Oil

Juice of 1 lemon

Chopped fresh mint, handful

Preparation 

Tip couscous into a large bowl, pour over the hot water. Cover with a tea towel, then leave for 10 mins, until fluffy and all the water has been absorbed. Meanwhile, finely slice the onions and the peppers. Rinse the cannellini beans and add them with the peppers and onions to the couscous, add a handful of Roquito peppers  and a little passata, dress with olive oil, salt and lemon juice, then sprinkle over some fresh mint to serve.

Serving suggestions : place the couscous on a plate, slice 1 beef tomato, place it on the plate with some green olives, lettuce and one sliced avocado. Drizzle some olive oil and lemon juice…Pronto!!!

Insalata di Patate

When I was invited to share my cookery skills at the Women’s Day event on the 8th March  I was asked to make something easy, tasty and versatile.

My potato salad, “Insalata di Patate” is the dish that I chose and it’s also inspired to my #BringNonnaBack campaign. My Nan who is now 94 years old, has taught me that good food is made with simple ingredients, the fresher they are the better your dish is going to be. She is right and I realised that using a few simple ingredients is the secret of a balanced diet. On the 8th March whilst celebrating the milestones, the achievements and grand gestures  of Women from around the World I had to celebrate the food philosophy of ONE of the two inspiring Women in my life (my Mum is the other Woman!!!)

Serving 8/10

You will need a pestle and mortar (an electric blender can be used instead), a chopping board, a chopping knife, a large serving bowl, a large saucepan, a lemon squeezer

Ingredients

1.5 kilos of new potatoes (preferably organic)

1 handful of fresh mint

1 handful of fresh basil

4 large lemons (unwaxed), zest and juice

2 medium cloves of garlic

fine salt, a good pinch

extra virgin olive oil, 6 large tablespoons

Preparation

In a large saucepan, pour 1/1.5l of water and put the potatoes in (you don’t need to peel or cut them but make sure you thoroughly wash them before). Bring the water to the boil, add a table spoon of salt and cook for 20 minutes or until soften.

Drain the potatoes and place the on a large serving bowl. Whilst the potatoes are cooling down, take all the basil and mint leaves (chop the stems off) and place the leaves into a pestle and mortar.  Peel the garlic, put the garlic in with the leaves, add a pinch of salt and start pounding. You may need to add the leaves in batches if your mortar isn’t big enough Gradually add the lemon zest, lemon juice and the olive oil. Keep mashing and continue until the ingredients are combining together. Pound until you’ve reached the right texture. You should have an oozy consistency. Have a taste and if needed season with more salt. Mix in with the potatoes…Pronto! Buon Appetito!

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Bruschetta ai Funghi

BRUSCHETTA pronounced“ BROO-SKEH-TTAH” is not only a very popular Italian dish but it is also one of many Italian words that people mispronounce. With this recipe I combined some cookery skills along with language skills. As a language tutor I find that people learn quickly with practical examples and by referring to words that regularly pop out on a  daily basis.

Here is a word that everybody would know though: CHIANTI and I am sure we all know how to say it!  “KEY-AN-TEE” …. Just like that!

“CHI” and “CHE” always sound “KEY” and “KEH” therefore whenever we find words with these syllables we need to remember to pronounce them as there was a ‘K’ .
Have a go now with some other popular words:
MOSCHINO (brand) MÁCCHINA (car)
ORCHÉSTRA (orchestra) MÁSCHERA (mask)
MARCHE (a region) TACCHÍNO (turkey)
CHILO ( kilo) FORCHÉTTA (fork)

While we are all saying these words out loud we can make this very tasty recipe….and by now we should know exactly how to pronounce “Bruschetta” 🙂

Serving 4 people

Ingredients 

300g  closed up mushrooms, washed and chopped

1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, washed and finely chopped

300g double cream

2 garlic cloves , finely chopped

2  loaves of tiger bread or ciabatta

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Parmesan cheese, shavings

1 pinch of salt

Preparation

Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan. Add the mushrooms and cook for a 3/4 minutes.

Add the garlic and the parsley. Stir it and pour the cream in, add a pinch of salt and cook for 2 minutes at low heat.

Slice the bread and toast or grill it. Place the bread on a large serving plate.
Pour the sauce on the bread and add the parmesan shavings.…Pronto!!!

Buon Appetito!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOR SPAG SAKE!

Someone very special in my life quietly and very suddenly changed his residence to Heaven.

He believed in my cooking and he raved about my dishes giving me all the support I needed.

When you can make your family happy with your cooking you know that what you are doing is  simply great.

The dish he loved the most is the simplest, the quickest and the tastiest of  all.

Here I am, dedicating this recipe to a man who is no longer here but I know his support is still around (R.I.P. John)

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Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Peperoncino

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Serving 4 people

Ingredients

Spaghetti 400g

Olive Oil (preferably Extra Virgin) 7/8 tablespoons

Garlic,  2 cloves, finely sliced

Dried chillies, small handful or half of a medium fresh chillies, seeded and finely sliced as an alternative

Salt, corse, 1/2 tablespoons

Parmesan cheese, as much as we like!!!!

Preparation

In a large saucepan pour some water (1/1.5 l) and bring it to the boil. Add the coarse salt, put the spaghetti in and cook following the time on the packet (usually spaghetti cook in 8 minutes)

Heat the olive oil, the garlic and the chillies on a large pan. Simmer only for a few minutes till golden, don’t cook it for too long as it can easily burn!!!

Once the spaghetti are cooked (don’t over cook them as they need to be “al dente”, not too hard, not too soft), you can place them into a large serving bowl. Pour all the oil with the garlic and chillies. Mix and sprinkle as much parmesan as you like! Pronto 🙂

Following my #BringNonnaBack we would also add some fresh parsley before serving ( garlic and parsley go very well together and the natural property of the parsley helps to digest the strong garlic taste).

I also meant to say that this dish is also known for “LO SPUNTINO DI MEZZANOTTE”, a midnight snack ….

Buon Appetito !!!

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CHICKEN STANOTTE

After a great summer ( most of us enjoyed the sunshine somewhere hot ) we are now back in the full swing of our busy lives (….and that not so warm weather), and probably we are all thinking about a nice warm dish we can cook for dinner.

One of the dishes that comes into my head and is also inspired by the latest documentary from Jamie Oliver (#SugarRush), is my Chicken Stanotte (title taken from a well known supermarket brand…), just to show that is as easy to prepare your own sauce instead of buying it ready made. Don’t forget that making your own dish is a simple and healthier option and despite our busy schedules we always need to find some time to cook fresh meals. Stock up your pantry and your fridge with fresh vegetables and fruit! Fresh fruit is an healthier option to sweets, crisps and chocolate bars, most of all after children come back from school. Besides there are so many great dishes we can create with fresh produce.

“Pollo” (POH-LLOOH)  is the Italian for Chicken and Stanotte (STAH-NOH-TTEH)  is “Tonight” or “This Evening” in English 😉

My Nonna would cook chicken as a back up plan on days when there was so much homemade bread left over that you needed a good earthy dish to mop the sauce up!!! #BringNonnaBack

So have all your ingredients ready and let’s start!

Serving

4 people

Ingredients

6/8 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless

3 large carrots, peeled and chopped in chunks

2 celery sticks, chopped in chunks

half red onion, diced

half white onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

handful of rosemary

1 tin of plum tomatoes

2 peppers, chopped in chunks

1 small tub of olives, preferably green

300ml of chicken stock or vegetable stock

salt, a good pinch

olive oil, 4 tablespoons

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Preparation

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees.

In a large bowl marinate the chicken thighs with the garlic, rosemary , salt and olive oil. Leave it to rest for 5 minutes.

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In a large pan (make sure it’s oven proof) put a little olive oil, put the pan on a medium heat and add the vegetables (celery, carrots, peppers red and white onion). Simmer until golden.

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Take a nonstick pan and put it on the heat until warm and add the chicken thighs. Cook them on one side and turn them over once golden. The juice from the marinate will prevent them sticking to the pan. If you wish, add a pinch of salt. Cook with the lid off until both sides are cooked. Put them to one side.

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Add the tin of tomatoes and the stock into the pan with the vegetables, stir and cook with the lid on for 10 minutes.


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Place the chicken thighs into the pan with the vegetables, add the olives. Make sure the sauce covers the meat so it won’t dry up in the oven. Place the pan in the oven and cook for another 10 minutes…..Pronto! 

To give a touch of freshness to your dish you can sprinkle some finely chopped basil. Enjoy your chicken with some warm bread or some rice. Buon Appettito !!!

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Please, please, pretty please!!! Be aware of the added sugar in your food and drinks, cook sensibly and ditch heavy ready sauces!

Benfleet FRD pic

Peperonissimi

I love peppers and I love them even more when roasted. They complement any dish, I like them with rice, pasta, fish and meat, although on their own are just perfect! Peppers are very popular in Italian cuisine despite the fact that most people might think they are more prominent in Spanish dishes…..well the truth is that wherever you are, Italy, Spain, UK etc… they taste beautiful, you only need to bring their extra flavour out by adding some simple ingredients. For this recipe capers and anchovies do the trick and at home we all love it!

My Nonna used to fill “peperoncini” ( small type of peppers) with chillies and anchovies or with ricotta cheese and anchovies!

#BringNonnaBack today with my version of her peperoncini!

Serving 4 people

Ingredients

5/6 yellow and red peppers,halved

a handful of basil, finely chopped

a handful of parsley, finely chopped,

1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped

1 tin of anchovies, finely chopped

2 tbsp of capers, finely chopped

1 tsp olive oil for drizzling

Preparation

Preheat the oven at 200c (190c fan oven). Halve the peppers and put them on an oven tray. In a large bowl mix the anchovies, basil, capers, parsley and garlic making a thick looking paste.  Fill the peppers with the paste, drizzle with a little olive oil and put them into the oven for 15/20 minutes. The smell of roasted peppers will fill your house, wait till you taste them!

They are simply delicious x

You can have this dish as a side to a BBQ, everyone will tuck in! IMG_0902 IMG_0903 IMG_0907